The Limerick section of the Munster Junior Cup starts this weekend with teams from all divisions having the chance to meet the likes of Pike Rovers and Ballynanty Rovers in the competition. The majority of games will kick-off at either 11am or 2.30 pm on Sunday. There are also three games on Saturday night with Aisling Annacotty A, Regional B and Charleville in action.
The big tie of the weekend will see Janesboro host Fairview Rangers at Pearse Stadium (11am). Unfortunately it means that Limerick will lose one of the top six sides in the city and county in the first round of the competition which hardly benefits chances of success.
The sides met just two weeks ago when Jason Purcell’s Fairview were narrow 1-0 victors thanks to a goal from the penalty spot from Daragh Rainsford. There has been a sea change at Janesboro since the end of last season with 13 squad players departing the club as well as joint manager Aidan Ryan resigning.
Shane O’Hanlon’s side reached the final of the competition in 2018 but were beaten on penalties by Limerick rivals Pike Rovers.
In another all Premier Division clash, Mungret Regional host near neighbours Regional United. Newly promoted Mungret have adapted quite well to life in the Premier Division thus far, picking up three wins from seven fixtures.
Eddie Storan’s side may fancy their chances against a relatively out of sorts Regional side who have lost to both Fairview and Coonagh in recent weeks. However, Shane O’Donoghue’s men will be aware that the club has a great tradition in cup competitions and will be desperate to continue that.
Last season’s beaten finalists Pike Rovers will make the short trip to Ratuard to take on Division 1B side Caledonians. Pike will be hoping to go one better this season after heartbreak in a penalty shoot-out against St.Michaels in Jackman Park in May.
In truth, Pike were lucky to get to penalties on a night when the Tipperary side, who have since went on to win the FAI Junior Cup, were truly dominant. Mick Sheil was in charge at the time and his side had three penalties to win it in the shoot-out but missed all three. They will be expected to advance comfortably to the next round. The Hoops reached the final for three consecutive seasons, emerging victorious on two occasions.
Ballynanty Rovers face division 1B side Pallas United with the East Limerick side looking to cause what would be the one of the biggest cup upsets of the round. It has been a tough week for Ballynanty as they were on the wrong end of thrillers against Aisling Annacotty and Pike Rovers in the space of four days.
Firstly, Donal Magee’s side looked set for victory with a 2-1 lead over Annacotty but conceded two late goals. Late drama was to unfold in LIT on Sunday as Conor Kavnangh scored a last minute winner to secure the points for Pike in a seven goal thriller.
Magee will see the Munster Junior as an opportunity for success in a major competition which the northside club have been craving in recent years. With Jason Hughes arrival imminent along with the goalscoring exploits of Connor Ellis, a big cup run could be achieved.
Balla were beaten on penalties in the quarter final of the competition in 2018 by local rivals Geraldines, in a game which the club were clear favourites for. Ballynanty will have to guard against complacency and warn against a weak mentality to reach the latter stages once again this season.
Last season’s beaten semi-finalists Geraldines will be looking to reach their second Munster Junior Cup final in six years in 2020 and were given a favourable home draw against Wembley Rovers at Garryowen Green (11am).
Geraldines were defeated by eventual winners St. Michaels by the narrowest of margins at the Markets Field. There was a great local attendance present at the Garryowen Road venue which showcased the potential that the club has on the big stage. Arguably, Derek Hannon has a stronger squad at his disposal this season, particularly if league form and personnel changes are anything to go by.
The addition of the likes of Barry Harnett and Kevin Barry appears to have added to their attacking options while the return of Irish junior international Danny O’Neill has not only helped defensively, but the right-back has chipped in with a fair few goals.
‘Dines were tagged as a cup team last season following some giant killings, a tag that coach Bobby Tier wanted to shake off in favour of more consistency. However, home draws could be key to another long run for the Garryowen outfit this season.